DA 2021-703 for revised ‘Ascent Apartments’ proposal for consolidated sites at 11-15 Church St
TRRA Submission Guide 13 September 2021
TRRA submits that the proposed building is simply too high – exceeding the only recently agreed new height limits by nearly a third.
Submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org with DA 2021-703 in the subject line, by 21 September.
This new proposal is for an 80 unit apartment building with a shop and café. While the new design has some attractive features, TRRA believes it is unacceptably high. At 11 storeys, it reaches a maximum height of 36.157 metres, which is +8 metres = +29% over the new 8 storey height limit for the site adopted only last year after a lengthy and vigorous community debate.
The DA is only on exhibition for 2 weeks, with submissions due by 21 September – send to email@example.com with DA 2021-703 in the subject line.
Council has agreed to accept submissions up until 28 September but only on individual request.
There are 15 documents online, but 5 key ones – the Statement of Environmental Effects (SoEE), a Visual impact assessment, a Variation to Development Standard (Clause 4.6) Report, and Architectural Plans. Regrettably, Council will remove most of the documents from the DA Tracker after 21 September – you can download them beforehand but beware large file sizes (Plans are 55MB).
Council has confirmed that this DA will go to Council for determination because it is for a variation >10% and so will not be decided by staff under delegated authority. There is no need for it to be called up by 3 Councillors.
Key issue: Height variation
The proposed building is almost one-third higher than the new height limit for this site finalised less than a year ago. The developer’s claim reported in the Examiner (9 September) that the height variation is only ‘approximately 10% over the height limit’ is incorrect. Both the SoEE and the Variation Report include the following statement:
‘The site contains a prescribed maximum height of building of 28m. The highest point of the proposed development measures 36.157m above the natural ground level (top part of the ‘wing’ on the north-eastern corner), representing a 8.157m or 29% variation, requiring a variation request and associated assessment against Clause 4.6 of the PSLEP.’ (p26)
Council is required to assess this DA against the current Local Environmental Plan (LEP), which includes the recent new height limits for the site. The applicant argues that it has approval for a building nearly the same height, but that was on a smaller site, and was assessed against the previous height limit, and the argument should carry little weight under planning law.
To justify an exception to the height limit, the applicant is required by planning law to show why compliance with the limit would be ‘unreasonable or unnecessary’. TRRA does not believe they have done so.
The previous approval for the Ascent Apartments was granted in the midst of a fierce community debate about height limits for the entire Nelson Bay Town Centre. Hundreds of individual citizens made clear their opposition to Council’s proposals to allow buildings of 10 or more storeys throughout the town centre. In the end, a compromise was reached with new height limits of 5 and 8 storeys, and these were confirmed in changes to the Local Environmental Plan less than 9 months ago.
Councillors spoke of the new height limits giving certainty to landowners to encourage investment. Approval of a building nearly one-third over the limit for this site would completely undermine this objective, and create a precedent – once again development in the town centre would become a lottery.
TRRA has consistently welcomed the prospect of any developer prepared to invest in the town within the applicable rules. We would particularly welcome a good new development to replace the unsightly hole on this vacant site that has blighted the town for too long.
But we do not welcome defiance of Council’s clearly expressed new rules for development in the town centre. Granting a variation from standards such as building height limits amounts to a free gift of extra value to landowners and/or developers. It should not be done lightly.
In this case, TRRA submits that the applicant should be asked to reduce the height of the building so that it complies with the recently adopted limits and meets community expectations. There is no evidence that a building that complies with the height limit could not be commercially viable.
Council staff and Councillors should follow through on their commitment to the Nelson Bay Strategy, as implemented in the recent amendments to the Local Environmental Plan, and refuse this DA, unless the design is changed to comply with height limit.
To discuss TRRA’s position on this DA, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0407 230 342
13 September 2021
Download Submission guide – Click Here
Press Release – Click Here
Bigger, bulkier and higher still – is this the future for Nelson Bay?
A new DA has been lodged for the ‘crane’ site on Church St, Nelson Bay, on exhibition until 21 September. Council will accept submissions up to 28 September but only if you ask before 21/9 – see email address below.
The proposal is for an 80 unit 11 storey apartment building, the first 2 levels being carparking below the level of the Church St footpath. The sloping site (down to the north and east) results in a height of at least 33m above ground level, with a maximum height of 36 metres. This is 8 metres or 29% over the new 8 storey height limit for the site adopted only last year after a lengthy and vigorous community debate. The report in the Examiner this week that it is only 10% higher is incorrect.
This image is taken from the application documents, which are available online until 21/9 at http://datracker.portstephens.nsw.gov.au/Application/ApplicationDetails/016-2021-00000703-001/
We encourage you to have your say about this proposal, which you can do by emailing Council at email@example.com with DA 2021-703 in the subject line.
Background: This is a new proposal for the combined site 11-15 Church St. The controversial approval of the Ascent Apartments in 2017 was for the smaller site 11-13 Church St. That approval was for an 8 storey apartment building which would have had a maximum height of 32 metres, which was more than twice the 5 storey height limit that applied at the time.
Proposed Helicopter Base at Anna Bay
TRRA is aware of considerable community concern about a proposal to establish helicopter landing base with 4 pads and 2 hangars at the rear of the Ampol service station and car wash at 4136 Nelson Bay Rd Anna Bay, very close to the Anna Bay Lawn Cemetery. Up to 70 flight movements a day are proposed, between 8am and 6pm 7 days a week.
Details of the DA 2021-387 are online at
Try to get any submission in by Tuesday 6th July 2021 but if necessary you can request an extension of time.
Full Document – Click Here
Final TRRA Submission – Click Here
DA 2020-242, 7 level, 62 unit apartment building 118A Soldiers Point Rd. – TRRA Submission
We have objected to a new DA for a vertical 7 storey apartment building behind the Soldiers Point Bowling Club – a proposed replacement for the already approved final stages of the Greenside development, which were to be a series of lower buildings tiered up the slope. See our detailed submission Click Here
This is our conclusion:
TRRA submits that the proposed development is simply too high (and ‘blocky’) to be compatible with the character of the surrounding area. Council should not approve a re-design of the approved development simply because the applicant has encountered geo-technical constraints. The re-design cannot in our view reasonably be considered an improvement on the approved design, and it fails to comply with a significant number of applicable planning controls.
The DA should be refused.
High rise proposal for Soldiers Point – submission guide
DA 2020-242, 7 level, 62 unit apartment building 118A Soldiers Point RdKey points for submissions, due by 5pm Monday 23 February 2021.
The proposal is to replace an approved design for four lower apartment blocks with a single higher (7 level – 25 metre) building at the front (east) of the site, with 11 fewer units overall. The existing approval is for four separate buildings with a maximum height of 8 metres above ground level (the ones to the rear of the site would appear higher when viewed from some directions as the ground level slopes). The footprint and site coverage of the approved buildings would be much greater and the landscaped area much smaller.
Full Guide – Click here
DA 2020-830 – 8 Central Avenue, Salamander Bay (LOT 7 DP: 1239352) – Objection
TRRA has particular concerns about the implications of this development for pedestrian safety and amenity on the public pathway immediately to the north. We are also very concerned about the absence of any opportunity for public input on the precursor approval for the proposed industrial building which will house this specific use.
Full Submission Click Here
Fingal Bay Link Road
Submission to Transport for NSW 11 December 2020
TRRA believes that there are some major threshold analyses and considerations which need
to be addressed before firm commitments are made on routes. Additionally a business case, including a cost/benefit analysis is essential to evaluate the various options. This should clearly define the objectives of the Link Road, having regard for the nature of the communities it would serve and impact upon.
Full Submission – Click Here
EXCEPTIONS TO DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS POLICY
TRRA has reminded Council of the weakness of its ‘variation’ policy which allows for exceptions from development standards including height limits, throughout Port Stephens. Council used this LEP clause in 2016 and 2019 to approve two apartment buildings in Nelson Bay that were double the then height limit (we have yet to see any sign of the promised investment). Our submission asks Council to respond to the many criticisms we first made in 2018, which they largely ignored.
Full Submission – Click here
Next stages of Nelson Bay Road Duplication
TRRA has made a submission on the route options for the next stages of Nelson Bay Road duplication between Williamtown to Bobs Farm. The State government has introduced a third option of a completely new road across the low lying farmland north of the Stockton Bight dunes. Our main interest is in the traffic implications, including for the increasing volumes of heavy sand trucks, but there are other environmental pros and cons of the different routes – see the submission – Click Here
Port Stephens Council WASTE MANAGEMENT AND RESOURCE RECOVERY
POLICY – File Reference PSC2007-3163
Our bottom line is that the Policy is nowhere near ambitions or broad enough and needs a lot more work. We have expressly called for further consideration of a separate green waste collection, including its relationship to the current mixed waste processing plant at Raymond Terrace, which was innovative when introduced 20 years ago but has encountered problems with its composting output and may not be the best solution.
Full Submission – Click Here
Information and Direction Signs on Road
In 2020 we have identified as a high priority the need to improve the visual
standards and general presentation of the Gateway to the Tomaree Peninsula.
Central to this is the control and management of the various approach roads to
our area such as Nelson Bay Road. We have commenced detailed discussions
with Planning Officers on the initiative.
Full Submission – Click Here
Letter to Council about tree removal in Nelson Bay CBD
An immediate issue has arisen in relation to two trees outside the Seabreeze Hotel in Stockton St which have recently had barriers placed around them, but the issue is wider, having come up many times before, including in 2018 in relation to trees further south on Stockton St which were removed at short notice with inadequate consultation.
Full letter – Click here
Council allows 8 and 12 Storeys in Nelson Bay
The content of the two submissions below each raises the issue of transparency in council processes. Although these are quite detailed documents we recommend your taking the time to review them.
Submission on Council Policy: Development Applications to be reported to
Council – Click Here
Submission onSmart Parking – Fees and Charges Amendment – Click Here